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Actress Nathalie Emmanuel says the British industry is not welcoming to Black and mixed-race British talent.
“The British industry hasn’t always embraced us, and I think so many Black and mixed people like myself have come out to America because the opportunities just weren’t here for us,” Emmanuel said. “And unfortunately, what’s happened is that a lot of Black talent has been lost to the States.”
The actress said that despite calls for more inclusion, the British entertainment industry isn’t listening or responding to demands for change — at least not in the way Hollywood is.
“It’s not like we hadn’t been calling for this for many years, it was just falling on dead ears,” she said.
Emmanuel went on to acknowledge that representational barriers still exist in Hollywood for Black actors, but that “while it has its issues too, and while we’re still calling for necessary, important change” in the U.S., there being more possibilities across the pond for Black actors means Black Brits are going to continue to make the leap.
“I think, frankly, that the U.S. has so much more opportunity for people of all kinds of backgrounds, and all kinds of like people,” she said. “The industry is bigger so there’s more being made, and there’s kind of space for more people.”
During the discussion, she also shared what it feels like to be a source of Black representation and an actor that young Black people can look to and see themselves in.
“It’s always really heartwarming when I have someone come up to me and they say, ‘Oh, my daughter, she hated her hair, she hated her skin, she hated these things about herself, and then she saw you. And then, she now like, loves herself,'” the actress recounted.
While Emmanuel’s presence on screen may be significant for younger and older viewers alike, the Fast franchise star said getting those responses is also personally meaningful.
“It literally makes me want to cry because I was that little girl, so the fact that I can be that for someone else is lovely,” she said.
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